June 23, 2004

 to all interested persons:

Pursuant to Iowa Code section 68B.32A(11) and rule 351—1.2, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board issues this opinion on when an individual becomes a candidate. We note at the outset that the Board’s jurisdiction is limited to the application of Iowa Code chapters 68A and 68B and rules in Iowa Administrative Code chapter 351.


In IECDB Advisory Opinion 2000-37, the Board issued an opinion on when an individual becomes a “candidate” for purposes of the campaign laws. This revised opinion reflects changes in the law, clarifies portions of the previous opinion, and addresses a new issue.

Iowa Code section 68A.102(4)1 states:

“‘Candidate’ means any individual who has taken affirmative action to seek nomination or election to a public office and shall also include any judge standing for retention in a judicial election.”

Iowa Code section 68B.32A(9) includes as part of the duties of the Board:

“Determine, in case of dispute, at what time a person has become a candidate.”

The Board first notes that an individual becoming a “candidate” for purposes of the campaign laws is much different than an individual becoming a “candidate” by having his or her name appear on a ballot.2 Individuals may become “candidates” under the campaign laws before their names are on a ballot, after their names are on a ballot, and in some instances even when their names never appear on a ballot.3

As such, the campaign laws do not prohibit someone from campaigning for public office even if the individual is not going to appear on a ballot or is otherwise is not permitted to appear on a ballot. However, the individual does have to comply with all of the campaign laws that do exist.

It is the Board’s opinion that an individual takes “affirmative action to seek nomination or election to a public office” and becomes a “candidate” under the campaign laws when any one of the following courses of conduct are taken:

  1. The individual makes a public announcement of intention to seek nomination or election for a state or local office.
  2. The individual or an agent of the individual, accepts any contribution, makes any expenditure, or incurs any debt for such individual’s nomination or election to any state or local office.
  3. The individual files a Statement of Organization (Form DR-1) pursuant to Iowa Code section 68A.201 that registers a “candidate’s committee” with the Board.4
  4. The individual files nomination papers or an affidavit of candidacy with the appropriate commissioner of elections. This also includes situations where an individual distributes petitions or otherwise seeks signatures for nomination to a state or local office.
  5. The individual is nominated for state or local office by any convention process set out by law.

In IECDB Advisory Opinion 2000-37 the Board set out examples of when an individual ceases to be a candidate. Those examples have since created confusion. In lieu thereof, if an individual no longer desires to be a “candidate” for purposes of Chapter 68A the individual shall provide evidence to the Board that he or she is no longer seeking the nomination or election.5

IECDB Advisory Opinion 2000-37 is hereby rescinded.


James Albert, Board Chair
Phyllis Peters, Vice Chair
Janet Carl
Gerald Sullivan
Betsy Roe
John Walsh

Submitted by: W. Charles Smithson, Board Legal Counsel

1The campaign laws were renumbered from Chapter 56 to Chapter 68A effective July 1, 2003.
2An individual having his or her name appearing on a ballot is governed by the election laws of Iowa and is not under the Board’s jurisdiction.
3This analysis does not apply to ballot issue campaigns. See Iowa Code section 68A.102(1), Board rule 351—4.1(5), and IECDB Advisory Opinions 2000-11 and 2001-16 for guidance on the application of the campaign laws to ballot issues campaigns.
4An individual that raises, spends, or incurs debts in excess of $750 for his or her nomination or election to a state or local office is required to file a statement of organization within 10 days of crossing the $750 threshold (see Iowa Code sections 68A.102(5) and 68A.201(1)).
5An individual who has registered a campaign committee will continue being a “candidate” until the individual has spent all remaining campaign funds, filed a final disclosure report, and filed a Notice of Dissolution (Form DR-3). 


*rule 4.1(4)